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A Look Inside My Interpreter Bag

We all have things we like to take to work. Unless you work somewhere that you are not allowed to bring anything... But that's a different case. For the most part, the majority of people take certain things to make their work day more comfortable for them. They take things they need and take things just in case.

I am an American Sign Language interpreter. I've been doing it professionally since 2016. I've learned a lot from my experiences. There is a difference between a spoken language interpreter and an ASL interpreter. However, what they may carry around may be about the same for either interpreter.

As a freelance American Sign Language interpreter, I have to make sure im ready for anything. Simply because I can't just ask to go home. My work day is always different. What if I get called in to an emergency? What if I have to stay longer than expected at an assignment? What if the client is late and I have to sit there and wait? Anything could happen and I like to be prepared for boredom, anxiety, hunger, and anything else.

Are you an interpreter? Are you thinking of pursing that career? Maybe this can help you when getting ready to go to an assignment.

I carry a book bag around for my assignments. It has everything I could possibly need. I chose a book bag because it's less hurtful on my back. Its weight is evenly distributed on my back and causes me less pain than a purse does. It's also out of the way and I won't leave it anywhere since it's attached to me. I created a list for easy checking below. However, I will go in detail after that.

What I carry around:

- Folder with verification forms

- Pen and pencil

- Wallet with light cash

- Water bottle

- Hand sanitizer and hand lotion

- AirPods

- iPad and Apple pencil

- Laptop

- Small coloring/activity book and pouch with glitter gel pens

- Book to read

- Chapstick

- Business cards

- Eye drops

- Pantyliners and tampons

- Pill box

- Pouch with chargers for everything

- Mints and gum

- Nail file

- Snacks

- Pouch with miscellaneous things (explained below)

In the front zipper pocket, I carry my chapstick, eyedrops, pen, pencil, rubber band, and the sticky page markers or bookmarks. I'm not even sure what they are called, but you can see it on the picture to the left. As you can see I've used quite a bit of them already. I use them to mark interesting parts of the books I read or to mark where I left off. I always carry around chapstick. There's a chapstick in all of my purses ready to go. The eyedrops are in case my eyes get tired, red, or dry. Pen and Pencil is to write, obviously. I'm not sure why there's a rubber band in my bag but it doesn't take up much space so I just leave it there.

In the second front pocket, I carry my hand sanitizer, hand lotion, gum, minty breath mist, business cards, AirPods, pill box, and eucalyptus essential oil. Working in the medical setting, you come across many germs and that's what the hand sanitizer is for. I've always carried it, even before COVID-19. The hand lotion is a cheap one I bought from the Dollar Tree just to have because my hands get dry with all the sanitizer and washing. The gum and minty breath mist is to make sure I never have gross food breath or anything like that. Business cards are here because I need to be able to grab them quickly to give out. AirPods are also here because I need to be able to put them away quickly. Same goes for the pill box. I usually carry pain killers for any sudden pains (headache, back pain, cramps). Last but not least in this section is the eucalyptus essential oil. I carry that around for times I feel stressed or have anxiety. It helps me stay focused on the task at hand and keeps me grounded.

Inside my book bag, I carry everything else. I don't always carry my laptop around because it add too much weight. However, if I know I have a long day ahead, then I take it with me along with my iPad and Apple pencil. That I do take every time to work. I prefer to carry a plastic water bottle because there are assignments where I can't take in water or the more common occurrence, I lose my water bottle. I got tired of losing expensive reusable water bottles. And there's times I can't go into a place with liquids so I end up having to throw away the bottle. Tampons and pantyliners are self explanatory. Nail file is for when my nails break, which they do quite often no matter how strong they may be. I'm working on that. My folder carries the verification forms that I must get signed for each assignment. Snacks would go in here as well. You don't know how many times I don't get a chance to eat anything so a small snack goes a long way. My small wallet with light cash is also in here. I have to carry some cash because sometimes I have to pay for parking and card may not be accepted. I have a pouch with all my chargers inside to make sure I don't lose battery when needed. Lastly, is the small avocado pouch you can see in the photo. In there, I carry miscellaneous things that I may need, such as a phone holder, makeup powder, floss, hair ties, bobby pins, cough drops, bandages, and a portable perfume bottle.

So that covers everything I take on a daily basis to work. I like to be prepared. It's better to be safe than sorry. I also have a "Go-Bag" in my car at all times for emergencies. If you'd like to read about that let me know in the comments!

If you're interested in learning more about my experiences with interpreting, comment below and feel free to ask me questions. I follow a confidentiality rule but if your questions don't make me break that rule then I'll be happy to answer!


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